The government has stated that a siren would sound on practically every smartphone in the United Kingdom on Sunday, April 23 at 3 p.m. The purpose of the ten seconds of sound and vibration is to test a new emergency alarm system.
The test was originally scheduled for the early evening, but it was changed to avoid a conflict with a 4.30pm FA Cup semi-final. The administration was particularly eager to avoid a conflict with the London Marathon, which begins on that Sunday at 9am
The alarm system will be utilized to warn of extreme weather occurrences, including flash floods and wildfires. It may also be utilized during terrorist attacks or civil defense emergencies if the United Kingdom came under assault. Oliver Dowden, the minister in charge of the system, stated that it would only be used when there was an imminent threat to life. According to officials, it may not be deployed for months or perhaps years in the majority of situations, as it will target extremely specific regions rather than the entire nation. People will not be spammed by the government with constant incoming messages.
He argued that a national test of the system was necessary, but that the timing had been picked to cause the least amount of inconvenience to individuals. The minister said that they chose the afternoon since people are less likely to be shopping or attending church services then.
The test message and alarm will likely reach 90% of mobile phones in the United Kingdom. Users can dismiss the alert message by swiping it away or tapping "OK" on their home screen to resume normal phone use. Those whose phones are turned off will not receive the message, but those whose phones are set to mute will.
Following discussions with the FA, it was agreed not to frighten thousands of football fans watching the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Brighton at Wembley Stadium. The government has also attempted to allay fears that drivers may be distracted by the warnings, which could lead to accidents, by stating that evidence from local trials of the alert indicates that people will wait until they are stopped before checking their phones.
Although such systems are already in place in the United States, Canada, Japan, and other nations, all 4G and 5G Android and Apple smartphones are already equipped with the ability to send out emergency alerts. But, it is easy to disable the warnings, and the domestic violence charity Refuge is instructing vulnerable individuals on how to do so prior to the test. Emma Pickering, senior operations tech abuse manager at Refuge, stated that their concerns have been centered on the real risk to domestic abuse survivors who probably have hidden or secondary phones in their houses which they must ensure are not discovered by their abusers.
The devices can save lives for women in need of support or who are escaping an abuser. She mentioned that even when devices are in silent mode, these alarms will sound like a loud siren that could alert an abuser to a hidden device.
Mr. Dowden stated that the administration had consulted with domestic violence organizations and taken their concerns into account while organizing a media campaign prior to April 23.